How Much Spousal Support Can I Expect To Pay?

May 7, 2024 | By Resolute Divorce Law
How Much Spousal Support Can I Expect To Pay?
Orlando divorce attorney

When going through a divorce, one of the most common concerns is the issue of spousal support.

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a financial payment made by one spouse to the other to help maintain their standard of living after the marriage has ended.

Divorcing spouses should understand what spousal support is, how it differs from child support, who may receive it, how it is determined, and most importantly, how much you can expect to pay.

Most of all, be sure to consult an experienced Orlando divorce attorney and learn more about your spousal support obligations.

The Role of a Divorce Attorney

A divorce attorney understands family law and can provide sound guidance and representation during divorce proceedings. They know the laws and regulations surrounding spousal support and have the experience to negotiate on your behalf.

Why Hire a Divorce Attorney?

  • Legal Experience: A qualified divorce attorney with extensive family law knowledge can provide you with the best possible legal advice tailored to your situation.
  • Objective Perspective: Emotions can run high during a divorce, often clouding judgment. A divorce attorney can offer an objective perspective and ensure you make decisions based on your best interests rather than emotions.
  • Negotiation Skills: Divorce attorneys are skilled negotiators who can advocate for your rights and ensure a fair and equitable resolution, including spousal support calculations.
  • Document Preparation: Divorce involves significant paperwork, from financial statements to court filings. A divorce attorney can handle all the necessary documentation and ensure everything is submitted accurately and on time.
  • Court Representation: Having a divorce attorney by your side is essential if your divorce case goes to court. They will represent you in court and present arguments on your behalf, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

What Is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is a legal obligation for one spouse to provide financial support to the other spouse after a divorce. It helps the recipient spouse maintain a similar standard of living that they enjoyed during the marriage. Depending on the divorcing spouses' circumstances and state law, this financial support becomes temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent.

Either party can obtain spousal support, regardless of gender, apart from child support. Spousal support addresses the financial needs and disparities between divorcing spouses.

How Does Spousal Support Differ From Child Support?

While both spousal support and child support are financial obligations in divorce cases, they serve different purposes. Child support specifically supports the children's needs, including their education, medical expenses, and general well-being. On the other hand, spousal support assists the recipient spouse in maintaining their quality of life after the divorce.

Courts may determine child support using a formula that considers each parent's income and the children's needs. Courts determine spousal support based on the length of the marriage, the earning potential of each spouse, and the standard of living during the marriage.

Who is Eligible to Receive Spousal Support?

Not every spouse is automatically eligible to receive spousal support.

The eligibility criteria for spousal support vary by jurisdiction, but common factors considered include:

  • Income Disparity: Courts may award spousal support when they see a significant difference in the spouses' earning capacities. For example, if one spouse was the primary breadwinner while the other has focused on raising children or supporting the family in other ways, the non-earning or lower-earning spouse may receive spousal support.
  • Duration of the Marriage: The length of the marriage can determine spousal support. Typically, longer marriages are more likely to result in some form of spousal support, as they often involve significant interdependence and joint financial decisions.
  • Contributions to the Marriage: Both financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage are considerations when determining spousal support eligibility. This includes homemaking, child-rearing, and supporting the other spouse's career development.
  • Future Income Potential: The court will also consider the future income potential of each spouse. If one spouse has significantly less earning capacity or limited career prospects, they may receive spousal support.

Consult a skilled divorce attorney to understand the specific eligibility criteria in your jurisdiction and how they may apply to your case.

How is Spousal Support Determined?

Spousal support can vary depending on the jurisdiction and individual circumstances.

Generally, when deciding on the amount and duration of spousal support, courts consider:

  • Income and Financial Resources: The court will evaluate the income and financial resources of both spouses, including employment income, investments, property, and other assets. This assessment helps determine the paying spouse's ability to provide support and the recipient spouse's financial needs.
  • Standard of Living: The court will aim to maintain the recipient spouse's standard of living as closely as possible to what they experienced during the marriage. This consideration takes into account the lifestyle, expenses, and financial expectations established during the marriage.
  • Age and Health: The age and health of both spouses play a significant role in determining spousal support. Older or less healthy spouses may earn less income, increasing their chances of receiving ongoing spousal support.
  • Duration of the Marriage: The length of the marriage influences spousal support calculations. Longer marriages generally result in longer-duration or even permanent spousal support, while shorter marriages may lead to shorter-term support.
  • Financial Independence and Employability: The court will assess each spouse's ability to become financially independent, considering their employability, marketable skills, education, and training.
  • Child Custody and Support: If the divorcing couple has children, child custody and support arrangements will impact the determination of spousal support. Child support obligations may take precedence over spousal support, as the children's financial well-being is the top priority.

How Much Spousal Support Can I Expect to Pay?

In most instances, the amount of spousal support is calculated on an individualized basis, taking into account the unique circumstances of each divorcing couple.

Courts use different calculation methods, such as statutory formulas or discretionary guidelines, to arrive at a fair and reasonable spousal support amount. These calculations typically consider factors such as income, standard of living, earning capacity, and the length of the marriage.

However, calculating spousal support is not an exact science. Judges have discretion when determining the final amount, and they may consider additional factors not outlined in specific formulas or guidelines.

A divorce attorney who has experience in spousal support cases will know the potential amount you may need to pay.

Will Spousal Support Stay the Same Forever?

Spousal support is not necessarily a permanent arrangement. The duration and terms of spousal support can vary depending on the circumstances and the orders issued by the court. The overall goal is to help the recipient spouse become self-supporting within a reasonable time.

In some cases, a specific termination date may be set in the divorce order, specifying when the spousal support obligation will end. This can depend on factors such as the recipient spouse's expected future income potential or the completion of a specific job-training program.

However, in situations where the recipient spouse may never support themselves due to age, health, or other limiting factors, spousal support may continue for an indefinite period.

Be sure to consult a divorce attorney to understand how long you may be obligated to pay spousal support based on the specific circumstances of your case. They can guide you through the divorce process and ensure your rights and obligations are fully understood.

What Happens if You Fail to Pay Spousal Support?

Failure to pay spousal support can have serious consequences. Each jurisdiction can enforce support orders.

If you fail to pay spousal support, the court can take various actions to enforce the support order. These actions can include wage garnishment, seizing assets, placing liens on property, and even holding the non-complying spouse in contempt of court.

Additionally, non-payment of spousal support can hurt your credit rating and may result in legal penalties, such as fines or even imprisonment in extreme cases.

To avoid these potential consequences, you must fulfill your spousal support obligations as ordered by the court.

However, if you face difficulties in meeting these obligations, consult a divorce attorney who can explore potential options, such as modifications or adjustments, to ensure compliance while considering your financial circumstances.

Can You Modify Spousal Support?

Spousal Support

What happens if circumstances change? Can you modify spousal support?

Under certain circumstances, parties can modify spousal support. However, a modification requires a legal process. Here are some key factors that may warrant a modification of spousal support:

Change in Financial Circumstances

One common reason for seeking a modification of spousal support is a significant change in the financial circumstances of either spouse.

If the paying spouse experiences a substantial decrease in income or faces unexpected financial hardships, they may petition the court to reduce or terminate the spousal support obligation.

Similarly, suppose the receiving spouse experiences a substantial increase in income or achieves financial independence. In that case, the paying spouse may seek a modification based on the change in their ex-spouse's financial circumstances.

Duration of Spousal Support

Spousal support is often awarded for a specific duration, especially in cases of rehabilitative or temporary support.

Once the agreed-upon duration comes to an end, the paying spouse may request a modification or termination of spousal support. This may happen if the receiving spouse had sufficient time to support themselves or if their financial situation has significantly improved during the support period.

Cohabitation or Remarriage

Another circumstance that may warrant a modification or termination of spousal support is if the receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates with a new partner. In such cases, the paying spouse may argue that the financial support is no longer necessary or fair, as the receiving spouse now has the support of a new partner. 

Cohabitation or remarriage can create valid grounds for seeking a modification or termination of spousal support. Still, always consult a divorce lawyer to understand the specific laws and guidelines in your jurisdiction.

Remember that each divorce and spousal support case is unique, and the court will consider various factors before granting a modification of spousal support. A skilled attorney can protect your interests throughout the process.

Always remember that spousal support modification is not automatic and requires a formal legal process. If you believe your circumstances warrant a modification, consult a trusted attorney who can seek the best possible outcome.

How an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Can Help

Facing a spousal support determination can be overwhelming, but you don't have to face it alone. Consulting an experienced divorce lawyer can give you the guidance, support, and information you need to make informed decisions.

Antonio-G-Jimenez, OrlandonDivorce Lawyer
Antonio-G-Jimenez, Orlando Divorce Lawyer

A divorce attorney who regularly addresses spousal support matters can explain the eligibility criteria and advocate for your best interests. They will analyze your unique circumstances, gather evidence, and craft strong arguments to present your case effectively.

Furthermore, an experienced divorce attorney can assist in negotiating fair spousal support agreements, ensuring that your rights and obligations are protected. They can also provide representation in court, if necessary, and help enforce or modify existing spousal support orders when circumstances change.

Contact a well-versed divorce attorney for help with spousal support issues today. They will ensure a spousal support order does not cause undue financial hardship for your future.